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An Open Letter to the Spanos Family to Sell the Team

Running a sports franchise is a tough task. That doesn’t mean you have to make it this frickin’ hard.

Indianapolis Colts v San Diego Chargers Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Before I get into the gritty, grimy, and tedious act known as writing, shout out to Chris Reed for inspiring me to pen this piece. You can read his original version here.

Dear Mr. Dean Spanos and Associated Brethren,

Hey! How are you? How’s everything shaping up down in sunny San Diego? Oh, you wanna know how I’m doing? Not bad, ya know. Just chilling, typing away at my computer in an attempt to rid myself of thoughts regarding the sheer chaos that is the 2016 San Diego Chargers. Yeah, ya know, with the ways you all handle Joey Bosa’s contract, Eric Weddle’s departure, and the stadium horror-show, it’s hard to think about much else these days.

I’m not sure if you read anything posted on this site. I have a feeling that you hired someone to dig through the limitless bowels of the Internet, searching for articles related to your Chargers. I also have a feeling that if said person happened upon BFTB—pretty likely given the site has 15k followers on Twitter—they would quickly deduce the site’s general anti-Spanos sentiment, shared by most of the writers here.

And the list goes on.

I’m letting you know right now, I have no innate bias here. I started writing for BFTB just one-and-a-half weeks ago; I did not even start watching every Chargers game until the 2013 season, a season forever ingrained in my heart with a nostalgic twang. I cannot back up any of my claims with evidence from the way you guys handled so-and-so back in the 1980s, mostly given the fact that I was born just 17 years ago.

But, in all seriousness, you—the Spanos clan—give me so much ammo to work with, most of it coming from the last two years.

The Chargers are one of the most irrelevant franchises in football, maybe even in all of sports. And that’s okay; not every city has a ginormous media hub such as the one found in New York, and not every small town lacks in fans, with Pittsburgh and Green Bay being key outliers. But damn, have the Bolts been in the news for all the wrong reasons.

They say any publicity is good publicity. But in what world do your Chargers look like a well-run organization for those just paying attention to national headlines?

For quite a while, you all have been trying to build a new stadium in San Diego. Nothing got done, and you played your ace-in-the-hole: threatening to move to Los Angeles. When you lost, you let your boogeyman Fabiani slowly fade into the background, and brought in a different guy, Maas, to help win San Diego’s favor.

That’s all and well—I’m sure you’re losing quite a lot of money on the dinosaur known as the Q. Yet this drama has dragged on for far too long, soaking in the media for so long that it currently exists as a hypothetical better explained utilizing Langston Hughes’ poem A Dream Deferred:

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up

Like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore--

And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?

Or crust and sugar over--

like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags

like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Yup, that’s the Chargers’ hope for a new stadium in a nutshell.

I’m not sure, Dean, if your dad gave you some sort of a chip on your shoulder. Because you seem quite jealous of the Falcons, the Colts, and every other team that got a stadium deal with lots of public funding. Guess what: stadiums do not help the local economy. There’s so much research done to back it up—just type the question “Do stadiums make money?” into Google—that you just gotta agree with Bill Simmons’ opinion expressed at 0:39 in this ad titled “I Believe”.

Hear me out—the idea to up the TOT tax to pay for your stadium was brilliant. Brilliant, of course, because it skirts around the fact that you, unlike Stan Kroenke or Jerry Jones, are not worth enough to pay for the kind of stadium you’re vouching for. It’s a fabulous attempt to find a compromise when it seems like nothing will ever get done in San Diego.

Yet that doesn’t mean you had to run a petty PR campaign to try and undermine San Diegans, when in reality, you just did not want to admit you do not have the capital to build your own stadium and need private investors in a place like L.A.

You know what helps an effort to build a billion-dollar football palace? Positive PR. That does not mean hyping up guys you want to not bust, such as Derek Watt. No, that means signing your #3 overall pick instead of waging a war via different channels of the media. Seriously—and I’ll have to use the word petty again here because it describes the situation so well—what other team around the league creates situations so ugly that Around the NFL quotes a team executive saying, “It’s absolutely asinine,”.

Not just any executive; that right there is your son mixing it up with the NFL’s beat writers.

This article, the icing on the #BosaWatch cake, comes not long after you released the now-infamous statement on the whole situation.

I know the pressure keeps mounting to sign Bosa. That doesn’t mean dragging his name through the muck to alleviate some of the pressure is a good idea.

I don’t know about you, but I personally think it’s quite unprofessional to reveal details about contract negotiations to the public. Besides, if the team releases this kind of information, that puts good, hard-working Americans such as Ian Rappoport and Adam Schefter out of work. I’m sure you don’t want to take away jobs from those kinds of stand-up guys, Mr. Spanos.

The sad part—the ploy seems to have worked. Football fans everywhere currently trash Joey, mostly through social media outlets such as Twitter. Some Chargers fans even migrated to your side of the conflict, Dean. That must make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, doesn’t it?

If Stanley’s math checks out, you’re waging this war over $1.5 million. Now, that ain’t chump change, but for you, a billionaire? Relatively, that’s like me—a 17-year-old without a job—paying someone I know all of $1.50.

One dollar and fifty cents. Think about that for a second.

You published this article shortly after drafting Joey, where you hyped him up as a guy you’d dreamed of acquiring since he first stepped onto tOSU’s practice field. A lot must have changed since then for you to spit slander in the media, and for his camp to respond as such:

That right there is a dressed-up written representation of a burnt bridge.

Don’t forget about how you all handled the departure of Eric Weddle, either. Weddle and his agent, David Canter, definitely overplayed their card by delivering their ultimatum before the 2015 season started. Their attempt to use the media to make the Chargers organization look bad did not go over well with logical fans like me, with Weddle just appearing childish.

However, as the old saying goes, two wrongs do not make a right. And by playing Weddle’s petty—yup, I used it a third time—media game, you just came out looking downright silly, letting articles like this hold some sort of twisted merit.

Yeah, that dude that poured his life and soul into the team? In March, he stated that the Chargers “are dead to me”.

Who cares if Canter manipulated the media to make his client look good! The truth is, every national media outlet picked this story up, and every national media outlet made you, Dean, look terrible!

Combine the public media battles you have faced of late, battles in which no one comes out saving face, and you’re left with a public perception of the Chargers being a horribly run franchise that no sane free agent should even entertain. Mix in the uncertainty of the stadium situation, and the Chargers become the dumpster fire—no, the laughingstock—of the NFL.

Okay, that’s a little bit of an overstatement. For as long as we still have #17, there is no chance in hell we take the Browns’ coveted title as biggest joke of a franchise.

I understand that running a football team worth billions is a hard undertaking; I could never imagine doing it myself. The simple truth might be that some people—and some families—are just not meant to run a sports franchise. Given the Chargers’ inability to win much of anything in over fifty years of existence, including wasting the talent of two Hall-of-Fame caliber quarterbacks, tends to make me think that the current ownership group doesn’t know how to get the job done.

Sell the team. Sell it to San Diego surfer dude Ryan Graves, a billionaire who originated in starting Uber. Sell it to Steve Ballmer—the dude has more money than God, and seems to like to have a whole lot of fun. Just watch this Funny or Die video if you need more confirmation.

Sell the team, and maybe, just maybe, a new stadium will get built in San Diego. Sell the team, and you all can make a quick buck or two, living comfortably for the rest of your lives. Sell the team, and maybe, just maybe, it will renew my faith in the Chargers organization.

Because it sure is hard rooting for Dean Spanos’ Chargers.

Rant over.


Nathan Graber-Lipperman